It is a good thing to talk, especially if the two people talking are leaders of the two most powerful countries of the world. However, after such a summit U.S. President Donald Trump who is obliquely referred to as the ‘leader of the free world’ as opposed to Putin – who is an autocratic one, is being lambasted by his domestic audience and American allies abroad. Why?
Well, U.S. lawmakers blasted President Donald Trump today over his uncritical comments towards Russia during a landmark summit with Vladimir Putin, calling it "shameful", "dangerous" and "verging on treason." Senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham described Trump's Helsinki summit and joint press conference with Putin as a "missed opportunity" to hold Russia accountable for meddling in the 2016 election.
Trump's answer to a question on election interference, in which he attacked U.S. Democrats rather than Moscow's spies, "will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves," Graham charged.
Senator Jeff Flake, a fellow Republican and staunch critic of the president, labelled his performance "shameful." "I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful," he said in a tweet.
Trump’s answers at the joint press conference were indeed a surprise as the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe had indicted 12 Russians on charges of election interference.
Chuck Schumer, the senior Democrat in the Senate called Trump's appearance of siding with Putin over the allegations of election interference "dangerous and weak". "In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an American adversary the way @realDonaldTrump has supported President Putin," Schumer said.
"For the president of the United States to side with President Putin against American law enforcement, American defense officials, and American intelligence agencies is thoughtless, dangerous, and weak. The president is putting himself over our country," Schumer charged.
James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence from 2010 to 2017, called Trump's performance "an incredible capitulation." "It is truly unbelievable. On the world stage... the president of the United States essentially capitulated and seemed intimidated by Vladimir Putin," Clapper told CNN.
Meanwhile, U.S. allies abroad especially those in Europe were hoping Trump had conveyed a strong message against Russia’s actions in Ukraine – of the continuous strikes as well as its brazen annexation of Crimea.
As CNN reported, one Ukraine diplomat in the United States said he was “stunned”, and “shocked” by Trump’s performance.
"We can no longer completely rely on the White House," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the Funke newspaper group, according to Reuters.
"To maintain our partnership with the USA we must readjust it."
The CNN notes that the biggest fallout of Trump’s dismal performance is as U.S. intelligence experts said, Putin will take one message from Monday's events: that Trump is weak and there is no price to be paid for fiddling with U.S. democracy.
"The President missed a prime opportunity to confront Putin face-to-face and assert with some level of forcefulness that we know that you did this and here's what we are going to do if you don't stop," said Richard Ledgett, a former deputy director of the National Security Agency.
The fear now is that Putin will interpret Trump's solicitous showing in Helsinki as an incentive to come back for more -- to try to manipulate the midterm elections in November, or in 2020 with an updated version of the Russian hacking and interference assault that occurred in 2016.